On Saturday 13 July, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was the star speaker at the 135th annual Durham miners’ gala – Britain’s biggest regular political working-class gathering.
Speaking in the heavily pro-Brexit north-east just days after he had announced Labour’s intention to back remain in any new referendum, the crowd was noticeably smaller than usual, with a higher proportion of bussed-in Corbynista union contingents to help bring the numbers up.
The platform was also rather less diverse than usual, being composed entirely of a small selection of mutually back-slapping left Labourites, who acted as the warm-up for Jeremy and transformed the event into an early election rally.
Corbyn himself was liberal in his promises to usher in a bright tomorrow as soon as he was over the threshold of No 10 Downing Street. From the NHS to Orgreave, there wasn’t an issue he wouldn’t be able to fix.
The deep economic crisis that is affecting every capitalist country disappeared in his fantasy future, along with the resulting drive to war and the capitalists’ need to implement biting austerity. War and austerity being the inevitable response of the capitalists as they try to survive the crisis their own system has brought about, no matter which party is in government.
JC claimed he’s against a government Brexit deal, and opposed to a no-deal Brexit, because he is opposed to monopoly capitalism. What he cannot explain away is that the establishment and big British, EU and US capital are all firmly anti-Brexit.
He claimed he was opposing Brexit to stop privatisation of the NHS – even though the NHS privatisation agenda is not only nearing completion, but was hugely propelled by his own party (Dobson, Blair, Brown, Campbell … remember PPP/PFI, anyone?)
He claimed that continued membership of the EU would insulate British workers against harmful environmental and employment legislation. But where was the EU for the last 40 years? Where was the EU during the miners’ strike? Where was the EU on casualisation and zero-hour contracts? Where was the EU when the Greek nation was being robbed of all its social facilities to slake the thirst of the European financial magnates of Germany and France?
Jeremy insisted that a ‘Tory’ no-deal Brexit must be opposed because it threatens jobs. Has the EU protected workers’ jobs for the last four decades? Has it stopped capitalist enterprises shedding workers in the quest to maximise their profits? Was it standing in the way of the slow destruction and privatisation of the welfare state before the 2008 financial crisis hit?
Has it in any way hindered the vicious austerity that has been cutting Britain’s remaining public services and public-sector jobs to the bone? The economic crisis that is decimating jobs is an inevitable feature of capitalism, and is affecting the entire capitalist global economy; it didn’t arrive on the scene because British workers voted to leave the European Union.
Jeremy claimed that a no-deal Brexit would leave the NHS vulnerable to US president Donald Trump. But it was not the EU that opposed the proposed TTIP / TPP deals – which wanted to guarantee the penetration of finance capital into all markets and affirm the ultimate right of capitalist corporations to suck the lifeblood of national treasury budgets unopposed. No. Ironically, that was Trump, who killed the deal because he thought it wasn’t sweet enough for US capitalists.
In a desperate bid to mobilise the working class for their pro-imperialist agenda, Corbyn and others are now claiming that Brexit will mean Trump (US capital) will buy up the NHS. But that has already been happening for years, and Labour has not lifted a finger to stop it. How many workers realise that when they go to their GP or local hospital, a US health conglomerate may well be hiding behind the NHS logo on the door, pocketing handsome profits from the public purse?
Corbyn’s entire social-democratic wishlist is a tissue of half-truths and barely plausible lies. Most of them are not so little. And none stand up to the most cursory scrutiny.
Only power and economic wealth in the hands of the working class can save us from all the ills of capitalism. Corbyn is demonstrating that even with a celebrated ‘left-winger’ at its head, the Labour party can’t deliver for working-class people.
This article was expanded on 5 August 2019